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Iatromantis - Incubation (ritual) - dream incubation

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  • Iatromantis - Incubation (ritual) - dream incubation

    Iatromantis is a Greek word whose literal meaning is most simply rendered "physician-seer." (not the best source but sufficient for this discussion and to introduce the concept)

    The sick, who visited the temples of Aesculapius, had usually to spend one or more nights in his sanctuary (katheudein, ineubare, Paus. ii. 27 § 2), during which they observed certain rules prescribed by the priests. The god then usually revealed the remedies for the disease in a dream. (Aristoph. Plut. 662, &c.; Cic. De Div. ii. 59 ; Philostr. Vita Apollon. i. 7; Jambl. De Myst. iii. 2.) It was in allusion to this incubatio that many temples of Aesculapius contained statues representing Sleep and Dream. (Paus. ii. 10. § 2.)
    According to Peter Kingsley, iatromantis figures belonged to a wider Greek and Asian shamanic tradition with origins in Central Asia. A main ecstatic, meditative practice of these healer-prophets was incubation (ἐγκοίμησις, enkoimesis). More than just a medical technique, incubation reportedly allowed a human being to experience a fourth state of consciousness different from sleeping, dreaming, or ordinary waking: a state that Kingsley describes as “consciousness itself” and likens to the turiya or samādhi of the Indian yogic traditions.

    Incubation is the religious practice of sleeping in a sacred area with the intention of experiencing a divinely inspired dream or cure. Incubation was practised by many ancient cultures. In perhaps the most well known instance among the Hebrews, found in 1 Kings 3, Solomon went to Gibeon "because that was the most renowned high placeto offer sacrifices." There "the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night," and Solomon asked God for the gift of an understanding heart. Among the members of the cult of Asclepius, Votive offerings found at ritual centres at Epidaurus, Pergamum, and Rome detail the perceived effectiveness of the method. Incubation was adopted by certain Christian sects and is still used in a few Greek monasteries. Modern practices for influencing dream content by dream incubation utilise more research-driven techniques, but they sometimes incorporate elements reflecting these ancient beliefs.

    Dream incubation is a practiced technique of learning to "plant a seed" in the mind, in order for a specific dream topic to occur, either for recreation or to attempt to solve a problem. For example, a person might go to bed repeating to themselves that they will dream about a presentation they have coming up, or a vacation they recently took. While somewhat similar to lucid dreaming, dream incubation is simply focusing attention on a specific issue when going to sleep. Several studies have shown this method to be successful over a period of time

  • #2
    I've seen references to dream incubation before but I can't remember where now. I've used the repeating when you go to bed technique before, but only with people's names in the past. I haven't purposely tried it to help with a problem or for diagnosing an illness. Given what I know about the unconscious mind (extremely limited) I would think that there would be a problem with knowing if it was really the answer one was looking for or just what they wanted to hear.
    What We have fought and bled for will never be lost to us.


    • #3
      Oh I agree that there would or could be a potential issue with was it real or just wishful thinking.

      I think that was one of the reasons it had to be done in a sacred place under the belief it was the god / goddess who was giving you the dream information. Yet with it's shamanic influence and styling it also seem's to imply the dream would be given to a practitioner to utilize in healing their charge. That facet or aspect being relatively common to shamanic practices where the shaman goes into trance or dream time to speak with his/her allies and determine what is the cause and how to best approach it.

      I think from the individual aspect it would probably be more aligned to the divine cure being performed while one sleeps in the sacred place. From a dream or oracle perspective i'd think the dreamer would have to relate the dream to someone to "read" it for them and speak upon how the god / goddess intends it and how it is to be understood. But then that to would also go back to the sacred place usage and what to expect I would think.

      Not something I'd advise or suggest one do alone though. Well not the dream incubation seeking a medical response though simple dream programming would probably not be an issue unless it was really something out there.


      • #4
        I agree. I'd be curious to see where these rituals are still being performed (probably no where near me though ~sighs~) so that maybe I could go and observe one if they'd let me. I'm always curious about dreams and how people interpret them.
        What We have fought and bled for will never be lost to us.